Shelley Molinaro MS, CCC/SLP

Speech Language Pathology LLC
RSS icon Home icon

    Posted on May 5th, 2011

    Wonderful family and child photography.

  • When Your Child Does Not Understand

    Posted on June 8th, 2009



    “Put yourself in your child’s shoes”

    Imagine you are in a foreign country and you are just learning the language. In a noisy environment you would have a hard time understanding what the speaker is saying especially if the speaker gave you no gestural or demonstration cues. If the speaker came over to you individually and looked right into your face you would give her your attention and try to understand what she was saying. If the speaker gave directions rapidly in long complex sentences you might still have a hard time understanding her. But if she used short simple sentences and said them slowly you would be more likely to understand. If she paired these short simple sentences with gestures like pointing or demonstration of what was expected, you would be most likely to understand and respond.

    Imagine the anxiety you would have if you knew something was expected of you but could not decipher the message. We all respond differently to that kind of anxiety. 

    Some children tend to just say “no” and refuse to change the activity. It appears that difficulties with transitions may be in part due to  difficulties with understanding what is expected.

    Some children act out their anxiety by misbehaving, whining, being aggressive or being noncompliant.

    What you can do

    • Get information about your child’s level of understanding. A Speech Language Pathologist would be a good person to check with.
    • Speak to your child at the level of his understanding so that he will have more of a chance of understanding you.
    • Use visual cues to help your child understand. Gestures such as pointing and facial expressions give valuable information about what is being said. Some children do better when sign language, pictures or visual symbols are provided.
    • S-L-O-W  D-O-W-N.  Most of us speak much to quickly as adults for a new language learner to keep up with us.
    • Always seek the advice of developmental specialists if you are concerned about your child’s development. These suggestions are general principles and may or may not help your child with his/her own needs.




  • Encouraging Conversation With Your Child

    Posted on June 2nd, 2009


    Following the Child’s lead and using Declaratives are two ways to support a child as he/she learns to communicate and develop mature language. Following the child’s lead confirms the child’s communicative messages. Using declarative statements allows the child to do their own problem solving and actively generate a communicative message.

    How to follow the child’s lead?

    Observe the child. Wait for the child to respond. Watch and Listen to the child. Do all of this before talking. You will then be able to connect with the child by imitating, expanding on what the child said or did and maintaining or changing the topic based on the child’s interest level. This requires that the adult abandon her own agenda and follow the child’s lead communicatively. Being on the child’s physical level (face to face) , and speaking to the child’s receptive language level and expressive language level will help the interaction continue and reduce frustration on the child’s part.

    Declarative Statements are comments you make about your own experience. Non-verbal declaratives are sounds( “uh oh”, gasping, sighing), facial expressions and body gestures (pointing, shrugging shoulders). For example when looking for a lost item a declarative statement to a child may be “I wonder where the shoe is.” Rather than using imperative statements such as “Find the shoe .” or “where is the shoe?”. Another example would be to make declarative statements such as ” wow” when looking at a child’s art work or “I like that color” rather than “What is this? ” or ” What color is this?”

    Imperative statements are close-ended questions and directives. Our communication is probable 20% imperative statements. These statements and questions require a specific response from the listener and do not require the listener to be creative in generating a response. Imperative statements would be “what is that?” “Sit down” “Give me the cup”

    A child who is dependent upon imperative statements to prompt communication is not getting the time needed to generate creative linguistic communicative responses. Our job as the child’s guides would be to follow the child’s lead and make as many declarative statements as possible, stepping in to model as necessary only when the child cannot generate his/her own message.

    This is a combination of information from Hanen techniques, Floor Time techniques, and Relationship Development Intervention techniques.

    Shelley Molinaro, MS.CCC/SLP